Underage Drinking Crackdown In LES (Plus El Sombrero May Close Because You’re Not Drinking Enough!)

Put on your pumps and prep your fake ID’s, underage nightlife enthusiasts of NYU: Everyone’s favorite neighborhood to get sloshed in on a Saturday night (and maybe even see a horse), the Lower East Side, is seeing a crackdown on underage drinking, and the days of fake IDs working may soon be over.

Last Thursday, LES bars Lolita and PKNY (formerly Painkiller) were issued restraining orders for serving alcohol to underage customers. The NYPD slapped the orders on the bars after observing them serve alcohol to underage customers and auxiliary police officers. The bars will not shut down, but instead face civil suits.

The Lowdown NY reports that the NYPD has been observing Lolita since last Fall and that “the civil suits rarely go to trial; instead the city typically negotiates settlements with bar owners in which they agree to beef up security and screening procedures.” So get ready for bigger and badder bouncers, and the bane of underage drinkers everywhere: ID scanners.

Last Friday was no better for LES bar owners. NYPD and other officials dropped in for inspections at Tammany Hall, Boss Tweeds, Leftfield, The Suffolk, Fat Baby, La Caverna and Recoup Lounge. These establishments weren’t cited for serving alcohol underage, but for operational offenses — lacking emergency lights, not serving food as their license mandates they must, and in one case, watering down the liquor. The bars won’t close, but the MARCH (Multi-Agency Response To Community Hotspots) initiative that spurred the inspections has shut down establishments who haven’t shaped up in the past.

Finally, in what may be the hardest blow to NYU’s thriving population of underage alcohol enthusiasts, El Sombrero, aka “The Hat” (which are not two different establishments, as this blogger embarrassingly found out freshman year) may soon be shutting its doors. Regina Bartkoff, a waitress at the bar since 1988, told Vanishing NY “The rent has been steadily going up and they have a lease for a few more years, but in 2012 we took a nose dive. We have been losing our regular customers steadily.”

So before it’s too late, head out to the LES for one last evening of margaritas that are basically just tequila, making a fool out of yourself dancing to cheesy songs the Pratt girls keep playing on the jukebox, and attempting to pet the police horses stationed outside. Because pretty soon it’ll all be 7-Eleven’s and IHOP’s.

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